(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) One of the city's shopping destinations is back open for the first time in several weeks since the outbreak of COVID-19.
"We're very excited to be open, we're excited to have our customers come back," Sabrena Housman, General Manager at East Hills Shopping Center said.
East Hills Shopping Center opened its doors Wednesday for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The reopening, a treat not just for the shoppers but also for those who work in the mall.
"My employees were actually very excited and eager to get back to work," Stephanie Tripp from Auntie Anne's said.
During the mall's extended closure, management said they had to temporarily furlough some of their staff.
"We only had three management positions still on staff," Housman said.
Mall staff are looking to move forward now that they're back open, but COVID-19's impact is still felt. Not all of the businesses inside the mall have opened yet, and even those that have are seeing slower traffic.
"We're seeing about a 50 percent decrease in what our sales should and could be," Tripp said.
There are new precautions the mall is taking to combat the spread of the virus.
"We're just trying to encourage that social distancing," Housman said.
The modified food court only allows about 10 percent of its original capacity and there are signs throughout the mall reminding customers to maintain their six feet.
"It's been a very undergoing task to get everything up to date for what the CDC wants, and then what the city wants on top of that," Housman said. "Each store is different, but it's definitely going to be on a capacity on how many people can be in each store."
Staff are asking customers to bring patience along with their pocketbook the next time they come to the mall.
"Just know that we're doing the very best that we can to supply the community with what they're wanting.," Tripp said.
The mall is also operating on shortened hours now, and some family oriented features like the carousel and the kids play area won't be available at least through the end of this month.